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Brittney Griner can’t compete physically with NBA players

Apr 5, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT

Brittney Griner, Kiara Etienne, Kristina Higgins, Mariah Chandler

Mark Cuban’s declaration that he’d consider drafting Brittney Griner has drawn plenty of attention. But idea is completely preposterous, though I suspect Cuban knew that when he made his look-at-me statement. (To to be fair, I’ve certainly indulged him.)

Without question, Griner is a dominant women’s basketball player capable of great things in her sport. But she’s a 6-foot-8, 175-pound interior player who excels, in part, because she holds a physical advantage over her peers.

Here are the tallest starters Griner faced in her 36 games this season (in green) and the 36 shortest players considered forward-centers, center-forwards or centers by Basketball-Reference (in gold):

pbt brittney griner height

Griner’s tallest opposing starter was shorter than the shortest NBA center.

And she doesn’t make up for the gap with great (by NBA standards) leaping ability. Thanks to the following video, we know a bit more about Griner’s physical profile:

Griner has an 11-foot one-step vertical reach. It’s unclear what her max vertical reach is, but let’s generously add 3 inches to her one-step vertical to give her a max vertical of 11-foot-3.

That would put her in line with Damian Lillard, George Hill and Nate Robinson.

These numbers shouldn’t detract from Griner’s greatness, but her greatness is limited to women’s basketball and doesn’t extend to the NBA. There’s no shame in that, but the Mavericks should be ashamed if they actually draft her (which they never, never, never would, anyway).

  1. bifford - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    She’s still an amazing player in her own right.

    • lmoneyfresh - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      I don’t think anybody is saying otherwise. The point is that as good/great as she has been in women’s basketball, she just isn’t physically able to be an effective player in the NBA. There’s no disrespect in that. If anything, its a great show of respect to even bring her name up.

      • clickablecontent - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:12 PM

        Well, to be fair, there are plenty of guys in the NBA who aren’t physically effective but have other skills. e.g. I’m a big fan of the guy but Steve Blake ain’t guarding anybody.

  2. spthegr8 - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    Enough about this YETTI man!!! I was one of the ppl messing around the other day saying she could play in the league. But let’s get serious here. If you put her on the block against D Howard, it’s gonna be 1 POWER dribble & then she is gonna star in an episode of POKE-MON!!! & just forget about putting her on the wing cuz she lacks the foot speed and athleticism too play on the perimeter. So while it was funny the other day, everybody needs too CHILL OUT!!!! Cuz Linda the “Lamma” wouldn’t stand a CHANCE playing with the men!! They created the WNBA for a reason & that’s where she belongs!! & I’m not hating on Women athletes either. I’m Just Saying!!!

  3. mr9teen - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    So if she will never, never, never, never play in the NBA why are we still talking about it? Why is it even an post on this site? So you can post a graph and a video clip? Lets save it for real news. Some of the stories here lately have been laaaaame! Let’s gets some real news or post nothing.

    • mogogo1 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      This is all part of the new PC culture. Not too long back this would never have been a story at all because everyone would have freely admitted that no matter how great she was as a female player, she was still nowhere close to being able to compete with the top males. But now everything is so PC it’s like we are obligated to at bare minimum give serious consideration to the possibility, no matter how preposterous it is. Hence the videos, graphs, etc.

      Forget her gender and just look at her as a player… 6’8″,can just barely manage to dunk in a game even against far shorter opponents, rail-skinny, has an effective range out to maybe 10-12 feet, isn’t quick by NBA standards, and isn’t a great ball handler. Does that sound like somebody who would be drafted and able to compete in the NBA?

  4. mitchem85 - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    can’t “complete” with the guys eh?…


  5. mckaymatt - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Is this a joke? Not trying to be rude but I can’t believe this story has gotten as much run as it has…if she could actually play in the NBA she would probably be playing D1 men’s basketball…If there are men playing D1 who can’t make the league than that’s all you need to know…anyone who defends her and says she could is either a moron, trying to get media attention or being politically correct. Cuban and Battier fall into the last two…Dan Feldman is probably in the first one based on him wasting his time proving something that doesn’t need to be proven.

  6. cantonbound13 - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    She’d Definately out rebound Bosh Spice.

    • mydoghasfleez - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      and Andrew Bynum

      • badintent - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        And Andrea Eurotrash.

  7. kvvvv2391 - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Glad to see Kurt finally sobered up…

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 5, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      Notice who wrote this piece.

      Again, I’m not saying she’s an NBA player, I’m saying she should get the opportunity if she and the Mavs want to. That’s it.

  8. ogbobbydeas - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:05 AM


    • mckaymatt - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Not even…

  9. dirtydavis - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Women belong in the kitchen

    • cantonbound13 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      The hot ones in the bedroom

      • dirtydavis - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM


  10. thenew013 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    i would love to see women be able to compete with men but this article is spot on. She is an interior player and uses her physicality as an advantage against fellow athletes. she would be at a disadvantage in the NBA. I havent heard that she has great handles or a nice shooting technique and you kind of need something extra if you cant produce off strength alone.

  11. dirtyjerseysports - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    If Steve Novack can make it Griner js a lock. She destroys him as a player.

    • bougin89 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      So much Fail in one comment. There isn’t enough time to even start explaining this to you.

  12. bougin89 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    This is really unfair to Griner. Why should we have to compare her to NBA players? She should be celebrated for having an amazing career at Baylor, not critiqued unfairly against NBA players.

    No NBA team is going to draft Griner nor should they. She should/will help the WNBA by being a great player.

    • mogogo1 - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Exactly. She’s great in her own regard. To my knowledge she’s never even said she wants to play in the NBA… it was all just Cuban getting press coverage for himself. But instead of everyone just acknowledging it was Cuban being Cuban, it turns into a pointless debate where apples end up being compared to oranges.

  13. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I thought this fact was obvious? The most she would be able to pull off is an even slower-footed version of Steve Novak. She wouldn’t dare go near the paint, even in the open court — much like Novak.

  14. bigmeechy74 - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    She couldn’t even play division III men’s basketball. It’s just simple science. Not strong enough.

  15. hartdaddy - Apr 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    What is this? National “Point out the obvious” day.

  16. lakerluver - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    At 5’6″ tall, 285 lbs and 50 yrs old, paulhargis53 has a better shot of succeeding in the NBA than she does…..On second thought, maybe not.

    • badintent - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Yeah, Paulie was in the EANBA video, .. wipping the court with a towel, pushing a broom, then rotating on it.

    • badintent - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Yeah, Paulie was in the EA NBA video, .. wipping the court with a towel, pushing a broom, then rotating on it.

  17. yousuxxors - Apr 5, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    I can see a women pg maybe shooting guard but they would have to be lightening quick

  18. kb2408 - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    Novack and Blake both would destroy her. She’s a great women’s player but the NBA is the best of the best. The 12th man on any NBA team could beat the majority of the best professional women players.

  19. valeb2012 - Apr 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    I’m starting to wonder if this site is just traffic bait and not about useful and interesting content. First, Kurt posts about Auriemma and Griner, and Kurt wonders if Griner could compete in the summer league. This just points to how silly Kurt is. Then, Dan posts on how Griner isn’t physically capable of playing against men, which is so ludicrously obvious that it would be like someone arguing a Maine coon couldn’t match up against a tiger. Both posts are stupid and only serves to bring out the worst in people: idiots who think a woman basketball player could play among men, and those who say women belong in a room (you choose). None of this is enlightening or helpful. Just stop it already. You’re doing a huge disservice to your readers and the public discourse.

  20. halfbaht - Apr 5, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    What’s the point in having a WNBA if we’re going to let women play in the NBA? Wouldn’t happen in any other sport, so why should it in basketball. Just a publicity stunt by Cuban to distract from the fact that he made a mistake blowing up the Mavs

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 5, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      The NBA should be for the very best players on the planet. If one day one of those players happens to be a woman, she should be in. Griner will not make that cut, but I want to see the best basketball, I don’t really care who plays it.

  21. jessethegreat - Apr 5, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    This is just like those saying women should be in the infantry. If I get shot, I want a man that is physically my equal carrying me out of battle. I don’t want cary myself and a woman’s rucksack after I’ve been shot. Not slamming women at all here. I believe they should have equal rights as men. I just think they should be in physically appropriate positions where they can succeed.

  22. axelmontoya99 - Apr 5, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    She looks like Cris Copeland!

  23. fearthehoody - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    Didn’t Whoopie Goldberg already prove women don’t belong in the NBA after she coached the Knicks??

  24. dedalus13 - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    haha that sportscience show is epic. According to the analysis poor Griner is now guilty of not blocking 73% of the shots inside the 3 points lane…

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